After the debacle during the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, the Indian FA have been a busy lot as they are looking to revamp the whole football aet-up in India. National team coach Wim Koevermans, who has been under increasing pressure, after failing to secure a passageway to the AFC tournament in Maldives, reiterated the country's need to promote youth development.
The Dutchman called for coaches to be educated right from the grassroot level as they would be instrumental in shaping the career of a youngster.
"They are the ones who are in direct contact with the budding players. If they pass on a wrong technique to an Under-12 player then that player will never grow. So we have to make sure that coaches at the grassroots level are educated enough," Koevermans said to The Telegraph after a discussion with the football coaches and owners of the I-League clubs of Calcutta and the NorthEast, at the Bengal Club at Kolkata on Tuesday.
Trevor Morgan, Karim Bencherifa, Arthur Papas and Bhaichung Bhutia were present at the discussion which consisted of a lengthy presentation by Koevermans and All India Football Federation (AIFF) Technical Director Robert Baan.
“Clubs have to understand that without youth development they cannot move forward. Today’s discussion was really fruitful as we spoke about how important youth development is. I am sure the clubs will show more interest,” Koevermans said.
The Indian team has seen a slow but noticeable approach towards keeping the ball on the ground rather than hoofing the ball up the field like teams of the past. The methodology has not yet garnered the required results, but Koevermans is not one to give up on his ideologies easily.
“Ideally I would like to have the same style. But India is a huge country with diverse cultures. It’s not possible to have the same style of playing. But if a player is technically sound then he can always adapt to different styles. That’s why we want to educate under-age coaches first,” he said.
The Dutch coach was not too fussed over the euphoria over the Indian team’s disappointing performance in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. “At this point in time, India cannot think much about winning or losing. We have to have a long-term plan. That’s the only way to move forward,” Koevermans said.
Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia had called for a cap on player salaries which found quite a few takers amongst those present in the meeting. The former East Bengal man also advised the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to take all factors into consideration before taking a call on the idea of relegation freezing for all I-League clubs.
The AIFF had provided new franchisee based I-League clubs with a safety blanket of three seasons where they would not be relegated during this period. Certain I-League clubs wanted this to be extended to the existing I-League as they felt that clubs could develop young players instead of investing heavily on foreign players in order to keep the club in the top flight.
Dempo SC, Sporting Clube de Goa, Salgaocar, Churchill Brothers, Prayag United and Pune FC were against the idea of relegation freezing.
“I am not sure whether this thing will help. Australia and US follow this set-up and they have got good results," said the Sikkimese Sniper.
"In India the scenario is different. If there is no relegation, how would clubs from the second division come up? Also, is there any guarantee that clubs will put money on youth development if they know they will not be relegated and, hence, they wouldn’t have splurge money on star players? The ball is in AIFF’s court. It’s their call,” he added.
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